Thursday, 2 January 2014

Concert in the Gardens 2013 - Pet Shop Boys, Django Django, Chvrches

Edinburgh's Hogmanay
Four stars


Art may not have been the first thing in people's minds as they packed
Princes Street on Hogmanay, but it was in abundance in what turned out
to be the driest, most wind-free event in years. This must have been a
blessed relief to Pet Shop Boys, who were scheduled to headline the
main stage in 2006, before the elements forced them to cancel. This
year, however, the duo of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe relished the
occasion with a flamboyantly hi-tech, all-singing, all-dancing show
that saw in the new year with stylistic panache.

Prior to that, local supports The 10:04s and Nina Nesbitt kicked things
off with displays of wide-screen indie-rock from the former and jaunty
sugar-coated ditties from the latter. The main action, however, was
over at the Waverley Stage. So while The 1975 served up a set of coffee
table atmospherics and well-mannered pop hooks in the Gardens, Chvrches
and Django Django all-but stole the show down the road with matching
displays of electro-pop which one suspects would have Messrs Tennant
and Lowe tapping a discreet toe to.

Both bands are much louder live than on record, with Chvrches' marriage
of epic four to the floor techno and indie-pop sensibilities making for
a euphoric experience. Django Django, meanwhile, are art school
conceptualists to a man. Led on by two bag-pipers, the quartet sport
matching panda-patterned white hoodies and play a percussive overture
before launching into a blistering set of twenty-first century electro
Merseybeat.

If this made for quite a spectacle, it was nothing to Pet Shop Boys,
who opened a greatest hits set clad in spiky rubber jackets with It's A
Sin, before a quartet of be-suited dancers wearing multi-coloured boxes
on their heads joined them for Rent. With Minotaur heads a-go-go for
Suburbia, projected backdrops gave nods to Gilbert and George and
Kenneth Anger, transforming the arch English classicism of Tennant's
lyrics and vocals into the wittiest of spectacles. While Tennant's
umpteen costume changes saw him move from regal robes to scarlet fez
and sparkly silver jacket, Lowe of course remained motionless behind
his bank of keyboards.

First song after the bells was Go West, which transformed Princes
Street into the biggest gay disco on the planet. If this opening
musical sally is anything to go by, Edinburgh – and indeed Scotland –
in 2014 is already a state of art.


The Herald, January 2nd 2013
ends

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